Snowfall now looks like dusting

Weather: Road crews, school districts getting ready for whatever happens

January 11, 2011 

Snowfall now looks like dusting

Short but intense snow showers made a brief morning appearance Monday on the Capitol Campus, including at the Temple of Justice on opening day of the 2011 Legislature.

BY STEVE BLOOM — The Olympian

Forecasters are predicting much smaller snowfall amounts from the storm forecast to roll in today than previously thought, but South Sound snow crews and schools are preparing to handle whatever Mother Nature provides.

Snow could start falling in South Sound just in time for today’s evening commute, with 1-3 inches expected before turning to rain early Wednesday morning, meteorologist Dennis D’Amico said.

“Is it going to be a problem for the Wednesday morning commute? It shouldn’t be if it changes to rain in the early morning. Probably most of it will wash away,” D’Amico said.

But with snow in the forecast, local road crews are preparing for a long night.

Olympia crews will be at work today and through the night sanding and de-icing streets as needed, city spokesperson Bonnie Herrington said.

In Lacey, supplies are topped off, including new liquid de-icer, and the plows are sitting at the ready for whatever comes, operations manager Brad Burdick said.

“We’re prepared,” he said. “Bring it on.”

Thurston County made additional de-icer Monday morning and has prepared its sand and plow vehicles for a snow response, said Jack Lane, interim county road operations manager. Lane said he will have crews both on site and on call assigned to five areas in the county.

“We’re watching it minute by minute,” Lane said.

The State Department of Transportation is in “winter mode” and has trucks ready when called on, said WSDOT official Kelly Stowe.

Stowe said that WSDOT plows cover more than 1,000 lane miles in Thurston and Pierce counties.

Local school districts are also closely monitoring the possibility of snow and delays or closures. Most say they like to get closure or delay information out before 6 a.m., but the legwork begins much earlier than that.

The Olympia School District sends out drivers to check road conditions about 3:30 a.m. if a delay or closure is possible, spokesman Peter Rex said.

The several inches forecast is a far cry from models last week that showed the potential for a crippling storm that could have dumped 10 to 20 inches of snow, according to the weather service.

“Things have taken a dramatic turn for the warmer with this system,” D’Amico said.

Wednesday’s forecast shows rain and a high temperature of 45 degrees. Winds will also pick up to 10-20 mph sustained range.

More rain is expected Thursday and Friday. Highs for both days are forecast in the upper 40s.

Nate Hulings: 360-754-5476

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